Anchor Bay Entertainment had an interesting new release last week with the Blu-ray title Coriolanus in stores May 29th, 2012.
The movie was released in conjunction with independent American film studio The Weinstein Company.
The screenplay is a modernization of the Shakespeare tragedy Coriolanus from the early seventeenth century.
The setting for the film however is a modern day European country.
Coriolanus the Movie
The movie opens in a modern but run down city called ‘Rome’ during a period of war.
Stores of food are being withheld by the government from the ordinary citizens, causing unrest and riots.
The people largely blame general Caius Martius for the food shortages.
Martius soon leaves Rome after news arrives that the enemy Volscian army is in the field.
The leader of the Volscian army is Tullus Aufidius, a sworn enemy that has personally fought Martius on multiple occasions.
Martius leads an attack against the Volscian city of Corioles, which initially has setbacks, though Martius essentially goes in and single handedly takes the city.
Martius and Aufidius meet in man to man combat, though both men escape with their lives.
In recognition of his great courage, Caius Martius is awarded the name “Coriolanus”, and is persuaded against his better judgement to run for consul.
He easily wins the support of the Roman Senate, though he also has to win over the commoners, with whom he has always had a strained relationship.
Once is is persuaded to speak to the people, he seems to win their approval.
However two tribunes Brutus and Sicinius, who stand to lose some of their influence if Coriolanus is consul, plot against him and convince the people that Coriolanus was mocking them.
In the face of this uprising and subsequent hearing, Coriolanus flies into a rage against the idea of popular rule.
The two tribunes condemn Coriolanus as a traitor for his statements, and order him to be banished.
Coriolanus leaves Rome and seeks out his sworn enemy Aufidius in the Volscian capital of Antium, and offers to help him defeat Rome in retaliation for the way Rome has treated him.
There is one thing you can say about Shakespeare – the stories he has told stand up well to the test of time.
While the environment for this movie’s verion of Rome has been updated to modern buildings and weapons of war, this 400 year old story is still relevant and interesting.
There has been some editing in the adaptation of the play to the screenplay, though the story is remarkably close to the original.
Also note that while the setting is modern, like most modernizations of Shakespeare, the dialogue is has not changed.
It comes across as strange at the start, though eventually you get into the rhythm of it – perhaps the subtitles can help as well.
In any case, the themes here are as relevant today as they were in Shakespeare’s time, or in fact even in Roman times.
We have a hero who is manipulated through his arrogance and weaknesses and certainly, as is the nature of the Shakespearean tragedy, it all goes pear shaped.
There were a lot of good choices made by the film makers here though.
The use of the television news outlet to fill in back story and introduce the state of play was a great idea.
The modern but run down look of the sets (the film was shot in Serbia) brings familiarity to the age old story.
And it was a good choice to adapt a lesser known play, where fewer in the audience would be familiar with the story.
All in all I enjoyed the movie, though with the pacing and Shakespearean dialogue, I can see that this may not appeal to everyone.
The performances were excellent, with Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave particularly outstanding.
Supporting cast includes Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Ashraf Barhom, Jessica Chastain, Lubna Azabal, James Nesbitt, John Kani and Paul Jesson.
Coriolanus was also directed by Ralph Fiennes in his feature directorial debut.
Reviews for the film were excellent, with a Rotten Tomatoes score reaching 93%, though the public response was more tepid with an IMDb score of 6.6/10.
Coriolanus had a limited run in the cinema locally, earning $754.3k at the US box office.
Coriolanus on Blu-ray Disc
The video on the disc is an AVC 1080p encode at 19 Mbps, and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.
The look of the film is sometimes excellent, though often it feels a little washed out.
This appears to be an artistic choice of the film makers, since the blacks in the film itself are noticeably lighter than the black bars for the widescreen framing.
Aside from this the image is pretty solid, so I am left to assume that the Blu-ray looks as the film makers intended.
For full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc, check out the details page for Coriolanus.
The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 5.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.
The disc is a single layer BD25, with 23.1 GB used and is coded for Region A.
Coriolanus on Blu-ray Disc – The Bonus Features
While there are not a whole lot of extras on the disc, there are a couple of supplements that share some insight into the film’s production.
The feature commentary with director and actor Ralph Fiennes offers insight into his decisions and motivations as the film plays out.
The Making Of Coriolanus is a behind the scenes featurette that includes interviews with the cast and crew as well as production footage.
In this segment Fiennes talks about his decision to direct and reasons for choosing the project.
Coriolanus on Blu-ray – Final Thoughts
Coriolanus is a well made modernization of a Shakespearean play that is an excellent choice for folks interested in a dose of modern culture.
The Anchor Bay Entertainment Blu-ray release has a fairly strong presentation of the movie though it is somewhat thin on extras.
The retail price for Coriolanus is $29.99, though you can get it from Amazon for $22.99, saving 23%!
- The Making Of Coriolanus
- Feature Commentary By Director/Actor Ralph Fiennes
The classic legend of honor and betrayal has been astonishingly re-imagined in this exhilarating action thriller that wields a profound relevance for today. Caius Martius ‘Coriolanus’ (star and director Ralph Fiennes) is a feared and revered Roman General, suddenly pitted against his own city and fellow citizens. Rebelling against the power-hungry designs of his manipulative mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and rejected by his own people, Coriolanus incites a riot that expels him from Rome. The banished hero joins forces with his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to extract his revenge – and determine his destiny.